It is very important to have a veterinarian examine your cat at least once a year. Cats age significantly faster than humans, and therefore, it is imperative for cat owners to stay on top of wellness exams in order to catch any potential health problems before they begin. Most cat illnesses are much easier and less expensive to treat and cure when caught in the early stages before they progress or develop complications. Therefore, regular cat wellness exams are the cornerstone of preventive veterinary medicine.
Cats are good at hiding any type of illness. You may not be fully aware that something is wrong since cats can be experts at hiding pain or discomfort. By nature, cats are independent animals, but they still need to be examined by a veterinarian on a yearly basis as younger adults and every 6 months for senior cats.
As a cat owner, you should be aware of any changes in your cat's eating habits, playfulness, and general overall health. If you notice any changes in your cat's behavior, such as a change in eating habits, not greeting you the way they normally would, reluctance to jump up or move around the way they typically would… these are the subtle signs of what could be a more serious health problem, and it is time to schedule a veterinary exam.
At Hallett Veterinary Hospital, we recommend performing basic lab tests at least once a year, as well as reviewing nutrition, weight control, dental care, and any behavioral issues you may be noticing.
Of course, we realize that some cats don’t like getting into the cat carrier and going for a ride. Cats can be acclimated to traveling in a carrier by exposing them to the carrier routinely at home and rewarding with treats when they enter the carrier as part of their daily routine. It can become their safe place away from home.
What Is Involved In A Cat Wellness Exam?
A wellness exam is a perfect time to discuss your cat’s daily habits, diet, and any problems you may have noticed. At Hallett Veterinary Hospital our animal hospital is a certified cat-friendly practice, meaning that we have facilities and protocols that are specifically designed to cater to the special needs of cats. Our staff is specifically trained to make your cat feel comfortable and to reduce your cat's stress, so we can perform a thorough examination. We typically allow the cat to slowly exit his carrier and get comfortable with his surroundings first before handling him. During this time, we will talk with you about your cat’s daily routine, and if you have noticed anything out of the ordinary. Your vet will discuss the following topics with you:
- The appropriate food and weight for your cat
- Behavioral issues, environmental enrichment
- Daily water consumption
- Your cat’s stool production, or litterbox habits
- The amount of activity your cat gets daily
- Whether or not your cat is alert and content
Cats should have a thorough dental cleaning when tartar accumulation begins to affect gum health. During the dental cleaning, we will perform a dental exam and look for any abnormalities in the mouth. In addition to problems with their teeth, cats can develop tumors inside of their mouths, and since they are so adept at hiding pain, especially dental pain, it is very easy to overlook these issues. However, make no mistake, dental issues are painful and seriously affect the quality of your cat's life.
At Hallett Veterinary Hospital we assess the body condition of your cat and determine if he or she is the correct weight. A wellness exam also includes palpating the abdomen for organ size and listening to the heart with a stethoscope to make sure that all is normal, and checking teeth, eyes, and ears, and any lumps or bumps. A fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites is recommended annually. We will also collect urine and blood samples for yearly labs in older cats. Preventative care is extremely important, along with vaccines, parasite control and deworming.
This is the time to bring up any issues you are not sure about. If you notice that your cat coughs a lot, and you think it may be a hairball, mention this to your veterinarian. Some cats are prone to asthma, a condition that can be diagnosed and treated to improve the quality of life for your cat.
How Often Should Cats Be Examined?
Your cat should be examined at least once per year. You may not be aware that he or she is not feeling well, and it’s better to stay one step ahead of any potential medical issues. Older or geriatric cats should have a semi-annual (twice yearly) wellness exam.
Why Might Additional Tests Be Recommended?
Cats age much more quickly than we do so doing yearly exams is advised. If clinical signs indicate a potential problem or as cats get older, laboratory testing can identify underlying disease. Cats can be prone to kidney disease. If we can catch the kidney disease early, we may be able to change their diet to control it and improve their quality of life. We will also check your cat for intestinal parasites by checking a stool sample. Depending on the condition of your cat, any symptoms you have noticed, concerns you have or test results, diagnostic imaging may also be recommended when appropriate to provide our doctors with the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and come to a recommendation for treatment.
At Hallett Veterinary Hospital, our veterinary staff is here to ensure that your cat is able to enjoy a long and healthy life as your companion. Call us today to make a cat wellness exam appointment with one of our veterinarians. You can reach us now at: (262) 569-0801.